Mental Health

Parkinson’s disease + anxiety/depression: Stigma-busting for Mental Health Month

Stress. Anxiety. Depression. Have you experienced any of these along with Parkinson’s disease (PD)? As National Mental Health Month comes to a close, we’re highlighting how common these non-motor symptoms and mental health issues are among people with PD. Plus, see some new research on the prevalence of feeling demoralized (vs. depressed) with PD, and explore how members of the PatientsLikeMe community try to manage their mental health. Research shows that the vast majority of people with PD have non-motor symptoms (NMS) — with psychiatric symptoms (like anxiety, depression and psychosis) accounting for 60 percent of NMS in one large-scale study. “That’s why taking action is important,” says Andrew Ridder, M.D., a movement disorders specialist at Michigan Health. “If you or a loved one has had a new diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, we recommend an immediate evaluation for depression, mood and cognitive problems. Frequent monitoring should also be done throughout the course of the disease.” Dr. Ridder cites some key stats: About 5 to 40 percent of people with Parkinson’s disease have a clinical diagnosis of anxiety Between 17 to 50 percent of patients with Parkinson’s have depression “Anxious mood” and “depressed mood” are commonly reported symptoms of PD on PatientsLikeMe. Hundreds of members have reported a diagnosis of PD …

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Lights out: Bedtime tips to help you sleep through the night

Do you have a bedtime routine? Sleep is a challenge for many members in the mental health community — over 3,000 PatientsLikeMe members say they have difficulty sleeping through the night. Establishing a regular bedtime and better sleep hygiene is one way to help manage restless nights. Check out some pointers from around the web, and hear from other members about their nighttime rituals. Setting aside “worry time” and other sleep hygiene reminders Along with getting into a consistent sleep-and-wake cycle, building these habits into your nightly ritual might help: Set aside worry time— A few hours before you go to bed, take time to address and contemplate all you have on your mind (vs. letting it keep you up later). Go to bed only when you feel tired enough to sleep Prepare your brain and body for sleep with a signal it’s time to wind down, whether that’s a warm bath, dimming the lights or listening to soothing music Stop screens (phones, tablets and computers) an hour before bedtime. If you can it might be a good idea trying to make sure that none of these devices are in your bedroom. If you’ve just brought yourself something like a new corner TV …

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Can ketamine help when antidepressants don’t? A closer look at the off-label drug that’s in the spotlight

You may have seen ketamine making headlines recently as a promising drug therapy for treatment-resistant depression, or “TRD.” (What’s TRD? Health care professionals define it as receiving at least two different antidepressants– for at least six weeks in a row, and at an adequate dosage – but experiencing less than a 50% improvement in depressive symptoms.) So, how does it work and what does the research show so far? Get the facts below — plus find some helpful insight on side effects and more from PatientsLikeMe members who have tried ketamine.   Let’s back up — what is ketamine? Ketamine has been around since the 1960s, and over the years it has been used as an anesthetic, treatment for some types of pain and a sedative in certain instances. It’s also been abused as a “party drug” due to its hallucinogenic high. But in the 2000s, researchers discovered that ketamine could also have rapid antidepressant effects — in as little as 24 hours — for those with TRD when administered in a small, single dose IV infusion. A number of clinical trials have since linked the effects of ketamine with improvement in symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD), as researchers continue to …

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Health news: What’s making headlines this month

Let’s stay on top of the latest health news — in case you missed it, check out this round up of some of the stories making headlines in May. ALS May is ALS awareness month: Later this month, advocates from across the U.S. will head to Capitol Hill to meet with their legislators. Check out how you can get involved and join the fight against ALS. Congress passes $3 billion increase in NIH funding: $140 million of the increase will go to the BRAIN Initiative research projects that contribute to the knowledge and understanding of ALS. More info. Lupus May is Lupus Awareness Month: Nearly two-thirds of people know little or nothing about lupus beyond the name, according to the Lupus Foundation of America, which is promoting the “Go Purple” campaign. Get ideas for boosting awareness. A link between the “mono” virus and lupus? A new study published in Nature Genetics shows that the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) — known for causing mononucleosis — may increase the risk of lupus and six other autoimmune diseases by changing how some genes are expressed. Check it out. Parkinson’s Disease “Suspect” Parkinson’s drug faces scrutiny: Following reports of hundreds of deaths and adverse events, the FDA is re-examining the safety of Nuplazid (pimavanserin), which …

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Getting out of bed: The “One hour rule” and other tips

Does getting out of bed in the morning ever seem like an overwhelming task? You’re not alone. PatientsLikeMe members are talking about it a lot in the mental health forum. Read on to learn what’s worked for others on difficult mornings. Give yourself no more than an hour Elyse Raffery, contributor to The Mighty, shared her strategy for the “One Hour Rule” to get out of bed on the days she’d rather not move from beneath the covers: “Within one hour of waking up, I have to be out of my bed. If I look at the clock when I wake up and it is 9 a.m., by 10 a.m., I cannot still be lying in bed. I am a competitive person, and even some gentle competition with my own brain helps me sometimes.” Louder alarms, brighter lights and more tips from PatientsLikeMe members Check out these practical morning tips from other members in the forum: “I got a much louder alarm. I went back to the classic two bell analog alarm clock… so loud that my cat bolts from the room.” “Now I have a routine where I get up, turn the light on, and listen to the radio for ten …

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PTSD Nightmares: Why they’re happening and what you can do

More than 1,600 members of the PTSD community on have reported experiencing severe nightmares, and there are dozens of forum threads tagged with topic. So, we took a deeper dive into PTSD nightmares and some of the research-backed approaches you can try to help manage them. How common are nightmares after trauma? The quick answer: Very common. According to one study, 71% to 96% of people with PTSD experience nightmares. And the number is even higher for those also living with another mental health condition like panic disorder. At least 50% of people with PTSD suffer from nightmares that incorporate elements or contain exact replications of a traumatic event (these are called replicative nightmares). An additional 20-25% experience post-traumatic nightmares that don’t exactly replay the trauma memory, but are symbolically related to the traumatic event. Why do PTSD nightmares happen? Scientists have been studying dreams for years, but they still don’t fully understand how or why we dream. Matthew Walker, a psychology researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, has one theory. Walker found that during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the chemistry of the brain actually changes. Levels of norepinephrine — a kind of adrenaline — drop out completely. REM sleep is the only time of day when this happens. …

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9 mental health podcasts worth listening to

Podcasts are an easy (and usually free) way to stay on top of what’s new across a wide variety of topics — they’re kind of like internet radio on demand, and usually broken up into episodes that you can download on your computer, device or phone. Below, we rounded up 9 podcasts focused on mental health that are worth checking out. While podcasts can act as complements to your mental health care plan, they’re not intended to be a substitute for therapy or medication.   Mental Illness Happy Hour   The New York Times described this podcast as a “a safe place in which he [the host] and his guests talk about their fears, addictions and traumatic childhoods.” This is a weekly podcast that features interviews with people from all walks of life and explores mental illness, trauma, addiction and negative thinking.   The Psych Central Show   This weekly podcast takes an in-depth look at topics related to psychology and mental health. Hosts Gabe Howard and Vincent M. Wales discuss everything from online counseling and the toll of texting to dealing with narcissistic coworkers and more.   The Hilarious World of Depression   This podcast aims to tackle the …

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Tips on how to find a Psychologist

So, you’re thinking about going to therapy — what are you supposed to do next? We got in touch with Registered Psychologist Sean Keating to ask his advice. Sean has been a practicing psychologist for six years, and currently works as an early psychosis clinician. He focuses on early intervention for young people between the ages of 12-25 who have experienced their first episode of psychosis, or are at an ultra high risk of developing psychosis. We asked him for his advice on how to find a therapist, what to do if you’re not connecting, and how to get the most out of therapy. Tell us, how do you know if therapy is for you? I think the biggest problem in mainstream mental health at the moment is stigma. We’ve drawn a line in the sand where if you show vulnerability or cracks in your ability to function as a human, then you’re not of sound mind, or — the cringeworthy statement I hear quite often — “you’re weak.” It’s not true. Finding an outlet for your thoughts and feelings is important. If you find it hard to resolve a problem you’re having, it can help to talk to someone …

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Psychotherapy and PTSD symptoms: Your questions answered

Recently, a number of PatientsLikeMe members shared some of the questions they had about psychotherapy and  remission from PTSD symptoms, so we asked Meaghan Zisk, R.N. M.P.H., a nurse and Health Data and Patient Safety Clinical Specialist, to investigate. She took a deep dive into variations of PTSD, psychotherapy types, how they work and resources to help you choose which therapy type is right for you. She also touched on the possibility of remission from PTSD symptoms. Check out what she found… PTSD vs C-PTSD Complex PTSD (C-PTSD) is a relatively new diagnostic term intended to describe the symptoms associated with prolonged, repeated trauma. Examples of such trauma include long-term child abuse, long-term domestic violence, concentration camps, prisoner of war camps, among others. Individuals with C-PTSD generally have all of the symptoms associated with PTSD. However, individuals with C-PTSD also experience additional symptoms such as difficulty with emotion regulation, feeling worthless or guilty, and interpersonal problems that are not seen as frequently in PTSD. Due to the combination of interpersonal and emotional symptoms with other PTSD symptoms, C-PTSD can be harder to treat and may take longer to recover from than PTSD. The International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) has published treatment …

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From tomatoes to turmeric: Can foods fight inflammation?

Inflammation is a hot topic. What’s it all about? And what’s the scoop on certain diets, foods and supplements, such as turmeric, when it comes to fighting inflammation? What is inflammation? Not all inflammation is “bad.” Acute inflammation is part of the body’s natural way of defending itself from foreign substances like viruses, bacteria, cuts and splinters. It may cause redness, swelling, heat and/or pain. The upside is, these symptoms are a sign that the body is responding after an injury or infection by triggering white blood cells and disease-fighting chemicals. But some “other” kinds of inflammation — like chronic inflammation (which may include constant low-grade or systemic inflammation) and inflammation from autoimmune disorders (where the body attacks its own healthy cells as if they’re foreign) — doesn’t always show visible or obvious symptoms and can play a more long-term and complex role, according to Mayo Clinic. Which diseases or conditions does it affect? Mounting research shows that inflammation is a common underlying factor (and possibly a cause) in many — perhaps even all — diseases. You’ve probably heard about the role of inflammation in arthritis or heart health. But researchers and doctors have also studied inflammation’s link to a wide range of other diseases and conditions, including cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s …

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